Five Reasons To Love Trader Joe’s

April 1, 2014   60 Comments

Snack Girl has been reticent to write about Trader Joe’s because many of you can’t get to one easily.

Trader Joes

For example, I have heard that people drive down from VERMONT to shop at my Trader Joe's. Vermont, hang in there, because TJ's is coming to South Burlington soon.

I don’t like featuring a product or store that isn’t everywhere, but I am going to make an exception. Why? There may be people who live near one of these and have never been in one.

First, what is Trader Joe’s? It is a smaller grocery store with food that is mostly private labeled (Trader Joe’s brand). The food tends to be healthier, tastier, and less costly than a regular supermarket. Do not get me started on Whole Foods because TJ’s is about half the cost of that bank account sucking store.

When I first starting visiting Trader Joe’s, it was because of advice from my doctor. My diet of leftover Chinese food was leading to a spike in cholesterol and he wanted me to eat healthy so I checked it out.

TJ’s seemed more like a cool place to hang out than a store. People were handing out samples, and neighbors were blocking the aisles talking about the latest in goat cheese. I was hooked.

Here are the top five reasons I keep going back:

  • The quality of the food is high (tasty and usually healthy) and the prices are low compared to most items in my supermarket.
  • TJ’s stocks frozen fish and other frozen meats that are easy for me to store and use when needed.
  • There are fewer choices on the shelf so it saves me time. For example, I don’t have to look at 40 brands of peanut butter to choose the best one.
  • Coca-Cola, Doritos, Pepsi, Snickers, Oreos, Lucky Charms (among others) are not sold there. I don’t have to avoid the end of the aisles that may result in an impulse purchase.
  • I don’t need a value card or other such nonsense to get a deal.

There are downsides. For example, TJ’s doesn’t stock everything so I end up going to two stores and there are foods that are very high calorie (1600 calorie salad anyone?). I doubt there will ever be a store where you don’t have to review the nutrition facts label.

Below I have listed a Trader Joe's cookbook which is a brilliant source if you shop there a lot. There are plenty of great recipes that feature what TJ's stocks.

What do you think of Trader Joe’s? What are your favorite items?

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First 20 Comments: ( See all 60 )

Before trashing Whole Foods, think what it has done for the organic foods movement...then think of what that means to the farmworkers and consumers of the world...I'm just sayin'.

TJ's has been my favorite since my first visit to the L.A. store in 1995. Many years later we got one here in Baltimore and now we have several. I will not patronize Whole Foods for the very reason Lisa mentions. When I need milk chocolate for my baked goods TJ'ss Pounder Plus is the best out there. Another favorite are their Ginger Pear White Tea bags. Great service and Paper Shopping Bags with handles! Spread the word...

The nearest trader joes for me is three hours away. There is no store on the planet that I'll drive that far for to buy tea bags. I doubt I'll ever see the inside of one unless I move away from southeast Kansas.

You guys must not have a Wegmans.

We have both, and Wegmans beats Trader Joe's on nearly everything. (Not everything. Nearly.) Best produce ever, store brand much less expensive options, all KINDS of information and food about eating healthy..

Don't forget that if you buy something and don't like it, you can return it. Yes, return it, even if you simply don't like the taste of it! The customer service is phenomenal- at least at my store. I am hooked on TJ's and feel bad for those that don't have access to one. They have the best prices on quality cheese. I shop there every week!

Pam, Wegmans came in #1 in grocery stores with Trader Joe's #2 and Publix #3. We don't have a Wegmans down here in SW FL, but I wish so I can check it out. With that being said, I love Trader Joe's. I don't get to go there much, as it is an hour from where I live, and the traffic this time of year down here makes it a miserable 2 to 3 hour trip or so. So about once a month off season, I make the trip to Trader Joe's cause I love it that much.

I love Trader Joes, but I think you're too quick to dump on Whole Foods. Yes, some of their stuff is ridiculously priced but I can consistently get nuts, Earth Balance (and other weird vegan items) and other goodies for a better price than the grocery or Trader Joes--assuming TJs even has the item in stock! It can be such a crap shoot at TJs and they don't carry everything reliably. Plus, WF and TJs both pay their employees a decent wage. I can't help but want to support stores that practice fair pay. Both have their merits and neither are magical stores of health and happiness!

Love Trader Joes! It is only about 20 min from where I live & I should go more. They do have great cheeses & frozen fish items. I love their red pepper/eggplant spread -- yummy & good for you. They also have delicious Gorgonzola crackers - not so healthy, but still yummy. The frozen brown rice is a great way do make healthy rice in 3 minutes. Plus, always friendly & their Fearless Flyer is fun to read. I have to plan a trip!

There are still plenty of junk food options at trader joe's, IMO. Beware the impulse buy of the candy and junk food they stock. And the wine!!

It's amazing how quick all of you ladies are to protect your favorite food store. But I think Snack Girl was just trying to get some info out there for those who have never been to a TJs before. Where I live we have almost every fresh food organic market you can think of. Except for a Wegmans. That being said, I don't think anyone was "trashing" Whole Foods.

I've been to one..... once. It's not the only store that sells organic. Nowadays you can buy organic everywhere you look. I'm sure that makes the farmers very happy. But, if you look around out of WF, you can find a lot of the same items for less. Warehouse stores like Costco sell many organic items in bulk. I too read labels and nutrition facts and want the best product for the best price. I think we are very fortunate to live in a country that provides such a variety. I shop at many different grocery stores in order to get the best deal. My sister and I make a day out of it. Throw in some lunch and its a wonderful outing! Thank you Snack Girl for mentioning TJs and thanks to the rest for all your comments. I love my shopping days with my sister. Maybe you all should try going with a friend some time. Try out a new store once in a while. You would be amazed at how much fun and interesting each store is, individually.

I have been a faithful Trader Joe's shopper for 15 years. Yes, I do need to hit another store for occasional items, and usually around the holidays for something odd that goes in a favorite recipe...but I honestly would never consider doing my regular shopping anyplace else.

Check out for her take on Trader Joes.

For the most part, we shop primarily at Harris Teeter. But, my sister does like to go to TJ for cheese. They have a good selection at better prices.

I have found that Whole Foods carries items in bulk I can't get at other stores. Some of the items I can get at other stores are actually cheaper at Whole Foods. And when I can't get to the farmers' market for eggs, they carry my next favorite pastured eggs. We also shop at Lowes Foods, The Fresh Market, and Sams. It all depends on what we need and who has the best quality and value.

Everything is too expensive.

I, too, love Trader Joe's. I always finish at the cash register feeling it was money well spent for the value/quality. One of my favorite ploys is to watch other shoppers and see what they take off the shelf without studying the product. I realize they've already used the item in their house and it's a given that it's a good item. This observation has introduced me to try several of TJ's sauces or some unusual food I might not have tried. Also, most shoppers there are very friendly and love to talk about their staple choices.

I love TJs and am so happy to have them close to work and home (Former WA resident now in NC, y'all). I have a gluten sensitivity, and the gluten free options, while still pricey, are not as bad as at other places.

Plus, it's a foodie's paradise! Choosing among the multitude of cheeses at TJ's makes me feel like a kid in a candy store!

LOVE TJ's sunflower seed butter with the bright yellow top…just need a spoon!!!!!

LOVE LOVE TJs! A group of us go once a month driving almost an hour away. So worth it! The prices, the quality, organic, non gmo, tons of super healthy options for us plant based eaters!

We can get staples, non dairy, and fresh veggies and fruits all in one place! THE BEST!

Trader Joe's moved into our area about a year ago. I love their jumbo raisins, low sodium roasted red pepper soup, mango ginger chutney and almond butter which I buy consistently and regularly. Most of those candy options near the register have become favorites with my children- they don't have any dyes in them; and I have one child that is very sensitive to food dye. I am SO thankful that TJs carries dye free treats much cheaper than WF. I still have to get a few dye free foods at WF; but Costco carries Annie's products, Pirates Booty and Welch's fruit snacks with natural colors as well as lots of other choices for dye sensitive people.

We love TJ's and are fortunate to have one 10 min. from where we live.They do have some unique items that we are hooked on.When my husband travels, he fills up a suitcase with all the TJ staples he loves so much.

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